Personal Decision

Genesis 33:12-20

12Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.”

13But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. 14So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.” “But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.” 16So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 17Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

18After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. 20There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.

Christmas Party

Have you been in a Christmas party attended by the entire community? Countryside Christmas parties are more warmhearted, easygoing and peaceful than city Christmas parties. Everyone in the countryside knows their neighbor and celebration with people you know is more cordial, sincere and heartfelt.

Christmas programs and shows in the city can unique or creative but could city atmosphere be more sociable or friendlier than in a small community? How do you enjoy Christmas party with strangers? We enjoy Christmas party with church family, relatives and friends but not with strangers, it’s strange, of course!

We desire wonderful Christmas parties, a celebration without hesitation, a celebration with much freedom and spontaneity, in an atmosphere where we express what we feel inside without hesitation, reluctance or skepticism, where everyone accepts our mistakes, limitations, and rejoices with who, what we are.

Is it possible? What are things that may hinder, bother, or prevent us from peaceful, cheerful and heartfelt Christmas celebration?

There are many creative ways to celebrate, and material shortage is never very significant factor to have joyful Christmas party because joy does not come from material things. It is produced by the Spirit of Christ in us—believers.

And yet, the experience of joyful Christmas is limited when there’s so much concern we can’t ignore. Can you celebrate Christmas with someone you have unsettled misunderstanding? Family or clan reunion during Christmas celebration is far more enjoyable when misunderstanding or confusion is settled, right?

Bible narrative implies that Jacob and Esau had a very pleasant reunion. Esau had totally forgotten his grudge against Jacob. Jacob did not totally forget that Esau planned to kill him. So, Jacob selected the best gift for his brother. Esau did not require any gift but Jacob insisted to give them, why?

Jacob thought that his gift could help Esau welcome him with open arms. So, he insisted that Esau accept his gift. When Esau accepted it, did he consider that Jacob might be offended? And yet, when he offered to accompany Jacob, it was turned down. Did Jacob think of testing Esau’s emotional temperature?

Esau offered to leave some of his men with Jacob but Jacob refused it. Why? Esau may have offered it out of his care and concern but Jacob knew much better. From his observations, Esau had often decided out of instinct which leads to his own failure. Jacob had decided out of concern for his family.

Jacob knew that it was not easy to reject a heartfelt offer but he didn’t want his brother to decide for him. He had to reason out in an intelligent manner to respectfully refuse Esau’s offer and not to offend his brother. Esau totally agreed when Jacob explained that their delicate situation required slower pace to move.

1. Situation

12Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.” 13But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. 14So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

Esau travelled a distance just to see Jacob but he didn’t mind resting or plan to go home the next day. It’s enough for him to see Jacob alive and well. He was so glad to see his brother again, and cannot wait to bring his brother Jacob back to Canaan. Esau’s emotional gladness kept him going.

In contrast, Jacob didn’t rely upon emotional instinct. He relied upon God, and the Lord should have given him wisdom on how to convince Esau about their delicate situation. So, when he explained that his children were tender and his livestock were nursing their young, Esau agreed without any suspicion.

Vindication

Jacob was opportunistic practically. He took advantage of his brother’s emotional vulnerability. He felt vindicated when Esau cheerfully welcomed him.

Vindication comes from the Lord. King David declares in Psalm 26:1-7:

1Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. 2 Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. 4I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. 5I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. 6I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, 7proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

King David had his shares of shortcomings but he declared that he led a blameless life, why? King David repented of his sins, and he believed that God has forgiven him and taken away the guilt from his heart. And because of God’s forgiveness, he praised God and did not desire to associate with evildoers.

The Lord declares in Jeremiah 31:33-34, 33“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

When God declares that He won’t remember sins He forgave, by faith, sins can’t make us feel guilty anymore. Although some mistakes have consequences, they can’t prevent us from praising God and proclaiming His wonderful deeds.

When Esau didn’t bring out an offense Jacob did to him in the past, Jacob may have silently praised the Lord for it. Jacob, however, was not easily affected. He prioritized his family and livestock rather than to please Esau.

He had already reconciled with his brother. When he respectfully refused the offer of Esau, he also confirmed that Esau had forgiven him and totally forgotten his grudge against him when Esau didn’t insist on his idea to help him.

Can we interpret that God’s grace was also active in Jacob’s situation?

When Jacob presented his situation and Esau agreed with him, it may have assured Jacob that their reunion happened according to God’s plan. God removed Jacob’s fear of his brother, and gave him wisdom and courage to reject Esau’s offer. Jacob was not scared anymore that Esau might felt offended.

Reconciliation is a message of Christmas. The reason God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be born on earth is to reconcile us to Him. It feels great to be reconciled with brothers and sisters but it’s more urgent to be reconciled with God. Why? We celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ, His first advent, and that should remind us of His 2nd advent, His 2nd coming.

Are you ready if Christ comes today or the next day? Do you have any assurance that you are reconciled with God? Personally evaluate your life.

It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

To be assured that we are reconciled with God, there are two realities we may wish to have in our life: Changes and Commitment. After reconciliation with God, personal lifestyle has changed from worldly to godly. We have commitment to the message of reconciliation. Meaning: We desire to inform others of their need to be reconciled with God through Christ. They’ve got to believe in Christ.

Who can dictate change and commitment? Only Christ can change and enable us to commit to the message of reconciliation. If you have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, appeal to Him sincerely to help you realize in your life the actuality of change to new life and commitment to the message of reconciliation.

There’s blessedness that follows. The Lord Jesus teaches in Luke 11:28: 28“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Jacob felt blessed after he reconciled with Esau. He had peace and not scared that his brother would be insulted when he refused his offer. He was free to choose a place for his family. He was not scared that Esau may find him as implied when he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock.

2. Shelter

15Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.” “But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.” 16So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 17Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

The term “Sukkoth” is properly translated as “shelter.” Jacob brought his livestock in Sukkoth because of abundant water. The pasture was surely greener favorable to livestock. Sukkoth was located few miles west of Penuel where he reunited with Esau, which was also located few miles east of the Jordan River.

Previously, Jacob ran away from Laban his father-in-law because he was scared that Laban may take away his wives and children by force. And, returning to Canaan scared him, thinking that his brother may still be angry with him. Yet when he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock, it proved that he didn’t need to escape from anybody again. He wasn’t scared anymore.

Can we interpret that without Jacob’s knowledge, God’s grace was actively at work in his situation? Anyway, Jacob hadn’t returned to Bethel just yet. Bethel in Canaan was located west of Jordan River. What’s the significance of his return to Bethel? Esau planned to kill him. Jacob left Canaan to escape his brother’s anger, and rested in Bethel where God promised him in Genesis 28:15, 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Jacob did not enter Canaan just yet, why? Was he enjoying the luxury of God’s promises? God instructed him to return to Canaan but no instruction to do it immediately. And God kept Jacob safe. God did not allow Laban and his relatives or Esau and his 400 men to hurt Jacob. Event and situation favorable to Jacob proved that God has fulfilled His promises to Jacob.

This Christmas, can you recall a promise you have received from God? When God promises something, hold on to that because His promise will help you know the result of any situation you may face in this life.

Worship at Mt Sinai

When God instructed Moses to bring the Israelites out of the Egyptian slavery, he cannot believe what he heard. He argued that he was slow to speak. So, how could the Israelites listen to Him? How could Pharaoh believe him?

Whatever God has planned, He will certainly fulfill it. In that place Mt. Sinai, the Lord assured Moses in Exodus 3:12: 12“I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

And that was exactly what happened. When the Israelites arrived in Mt. Sinai after the left Egypt, God gave them His commandments and instructions how to worship Him. At Lord’s instruction, they built the Tabernacle and started worshiping God as a community in the same mountain where God told Moses.

It says in Hebrews 4:12, 12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God still speaks today through the Scripture, prayer, circumstances, and the church. We would sense it when God speaks to us personally. How? The Spirit of Christ confirms in us. If God wants to rebuke us, He would say it very clearly. If He instructs us to do something or go somewhere, He will personally inform us. If He promises something He wants us to expect, He will make it sure we understood His promise. We just need to be prayerful to discern them.

God’s promises can serve as our guiding light, our map or GPS so that everything we decide to do should be related and relevant to His promises.

God promised Jacob to be with him, watch over him, and bring him back to his own homeland. He held on to God’s promises. So, when an angel of the Lord told him to return to Canaan, he didn’t worry what Laban may do. He was scared of his brother but he was very sure that God will take care of his safety. So, when he arrived in Canaan safely, that’s fulfillment of God’s promise to keep him safe.

3. Safety

18After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. 20There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.

Jacob has arrived eventually in Canaan. The city of Shechem (where he settled for a while) was located west of Jordan River which was directly across Succoth where Jacob built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. It’s right and proper for Jacob to purchase the land for their camp ground.

Jacob had a large number of flock and herd. He had servants with families. Buying the place where they stayed gave him the right to pasture his flock. He chose a place near the city so that they can easily have business transaction with its residents. They buy what they need or sell their product there.

One particular event Jacob did after the sons of Hamor agreed to sell their land for a specified amount was to worship the Lord. Jacob set up an altar and called it “El Elohe Israel” as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to him. The term “El Elohe Israel” means “the Mighty God of Israel.” Indeed, mighty is God’s work in his life. He arrived in Canaan safely. No problem negotiating for a place to stay.

In His Time

When TMEC (The Maples Evangelical Church) applied to buy this church property, it was already conditionally sold. But church leaders at that time did not give up their hope. They believe that if it is God’s will He will do miracles.

Nanay Leonor Francisco vividly remembers one prayer meeting when she was singing the Hymn “In His Time,” the cellphone of Pastor Lito suddenly rang. The call informed him that TMEC has been granted the right to purchase this church property. It was a miracle for TMEC to buy this church property because it was previously conditionally sold. Actually, God has blessed TMEC leaders with wisdom to negotiate for a much lower price than what was actually published.

There were skeptical church leaders who doubted if TMEC could buy this property but in God’s right timing, He brought TMEC here to worship Him.

God in His right timing brought Jacob back to Canaan. If God promised it, He certainly fulfills His promises. How much faith you need to believe that God fulfills His promises to you? It teaches us in 2 Corinthians 1:20: 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Waiting for God’s timing is truly tough. We need faith because we don’t know when God fulfills His promises but faith is proven real when we hope that God would eventually fulfills His promises. It says in Hebrews 11:1, 1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Just imagine: God promised Noah to bring flood that would destroy the earth. Noah waited for 100 years before it happened. God promised Abraham to have a son, and he waited for 25 years before it happened. David was anointed as young person but waited to be installed as king of Israel at the age of 30.

Before Christmas Day, we observe advent. Advent means arrival. It’s a waiting time for Christmas Day of Christ’s advent, His birth on earth. We are also reminded that Christ is coming again. Just as we expect Christmas Day, do we hope for Christ’s coming again? How much expectancy do we have? How much hope do we have that Christ will come again to bring us into His heaven?

It teaches us in 2 Timothy 4:8, 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Do you have longing and yearning for Christ to appear again? Do you have any certainty that you will receive the crown of righteousness given to those who longed for Christ’s appearing? Personally decide and make it sure today!

><(((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2018 <‘)))>< … <‘)))><

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